Book Review, Coming Soon, Favorites, Romance Review

Review: Second Down Darling by Lex Martin

Jake’s my best friend and first love. There’s just one problem—he belongs to my sister.

I’ve been crushing on Jake for years, but never had the guts to tell him. One drunken night with my sister and two pink lines later, and he’s lost to me forever.

She doesn’t care that I met Jake Ramirez first. That he and I were best friends first. That I fell in love with him first. Because what my sister wants, my sister gets.

When she video-calls me and Jake accidentally walks by in the buff, something in me snaps.

Transferring to a different college might seem like a copout, but I have to get away from Jake and my sister before I say or do something I’ll regret. In an act of desperation, I ghost my old life.

For the next two years, everything is great—until I come face-to-face with Jake and his son, who my sister abandoned.
Jake’s the new wide receiver at my school, and he wants nothing to do with me, which is fine because I plan to keep my distance. Except we’re thrown together in the most dire circumstances that bring back all those old feelings.

They say everyone deserves a second chance, but my heart can’t handle breaking one more time.

This is one of those stories that breaks your heart but also puts it back together. I couldn’t put this book down; it was that good. Charlie is immediately a sympathetic character, but it soon becomes clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg. She’s had a very difficult life since her family is an absolute nightmare and they just use her in every way. Her sister, a teen mom and influencer, needed Charlie’s help so her family guilted her into going to the same college so she’d be around to help with the baby. Unable to stand up for herself, Charlie is more of a parent to her nephew than his mother, who can’t be bothered to take care of him. She gets to spend some of that time with her bestie, Jake, but that’s become more bitter than sweet since he knocked up her sister.

In Jake’s defense, Kota seems like a total psychopath who targeted him while intentionally hiding her identity and definitely got pregnant on purpose. She’s truly twisted and comes off as totally unhinged, but I digress. Jake had no interest in Kota but she wanted to be a family and he wanted to try for his son’s sake. In reality, it seems like Kota orchestrated everything simply to hurt her sister, the one person who loved her unconditionally.

When Charlie finally tires of Kota’s manipulations, she transfers to a school far away, leaving notes for both of them, including her new phone number on Jake’s note. Years later, we learn he never saw it, that Kota searched high and low after getting her own note to find his and ensure he’d never know it existed. Jake was crushed when his best friend ghosted him but nobody would tell him where Charlie went so there was nothing he could do.

They find each other again two years later by pure serendipity. Jake’s a single dad now since Kota relinquished all parental rights in exchange for never paying any child support. They have a lot to work through, but Charlie and Jake quickly becomes best friends again, which soon leads to more. I was worried going in that the story would be super-angsty, which isn’t my jam, but it was just perfect. There was a lot of drama but Charlie and Jake handled it well. They stuck together and supported each other and they made it through the toughest times.

I loved everything about these characters and this world, including some really great supporting characters, like Billy. Their story was fantastic, and I can’t wait to read Roxy’s story. I’d like to thank the author for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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